KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Prices for poultry are under pressure — and not of the Instant Pot kind. Trade disputes, competition from red meat and supply-demand imbalance are among a laundry list of issues impacting the poultry meat segment. But despite the current volatility buffeting global poultry markets, Minneapolis-based Cargill sees the calm after the storm.

In November, Cargill announced the company had acquired Colombia-based Campollo, a leading poultry and protein processor. The addition of Campollo — along with the 2017 buyout of Pollos Bucanero, also in Colombia —further anchored Cargill’s presence as a major player in poultry in the Latin American market, where the company plans to expand its protein business to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

“We are committed to this region and I’m thrilled to expand our operations in Colombia,” said Xavier Vargas, president of Cargill Protein Latin America. “Our markets and communities will benefit as we bring our teams together. Cargill will bring its experience working in protein across four continents for more than 50 years to deliver customers and consumers consistent, high-quality products tailored to local flavors.”

Driving the company's decision to expand in Latin America is the reality that poultry is the world’s fastest-growing protein and will become the most-consumed protein in the next five years, according to Cargill.

“As part of our strategy we continue to approach opportunities of growth in Latin America through a combination of joint ventures, acquisitions and strategic partnerships,” Vargas told MEAT+POULTRY.

“In 2017 Cargill´s acquisition of Pollos Bucanero and in 2018 of Campollo underscores Cargill’s long-term commitment to growing our poultry business in Latin America and around the world. With both, we consolidate as the second largest player in Colombia, giving us an important participant in the poultry sector.

“We plan to invest more than US$500 million between now and 2020 in Colombia to achieve growth of plant capacity, safety, increase market penetration and continue corporate social responsibility projects in the area.”

Vargas added that Cargill also is evaluating possible future projects in markets like Mexico, Panama, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

MEAT+POULTRY: How much whole-bird processing (if any) is done in Campollo’s operations?

Vargas: Today’s capacity with Pollos Bucanero and Campollo is of 100 million pesos per year, and the goal is to increase it 50 percent in 2020.

M+P: What is the general perception of the safety of its products among customers and consumers?

Vargas: Campollo is well known for its experience of 20 years in the country, which gives the company trust and recognition from the customers and consumers.

We feel closer to our customers and the consumer than we have ever been. With that comes increased insights into what they want now and into the future of food. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, what it was exposed to and how its production impacts the environment. Also, they are defining themselves by their diets, and we are committed to delivering options, so they can choose to consume the foods that align with their values.

For example, in Colombia we have launched a new line of products called “Lite Line.” These are different sausages free of artificial preservatives, with high levels of protein and low in fat.

M+P: What is Campollo’s market share?

Vargas: Pollos Bucanero is the No. 2 company in the market and Campollo is No. 4. With Campollo, Cargill becomes the second-largest player in Colombia with about 15 percent share of the market. Mac Pollo is the only company with more sales (18 percent market share).

M+P: How does the company distinguish their products in the Colombian market?

Vargas: At Cargill, we are committed to reducing the use of human antibiotics in food production. Also, we innovate in products and packaging:

  • We invest in research and innovation focused on reducing the need to use antibiotics while maintaining our commitment to animal welfare and the production of safe, nutritious, affordable food.
  • We maintain our commitment to food safety and animal welfare, while supporting reductions in antibiotics also used for human health.
  • Cargill supports consumer choice. We offer traditional and antibiotic-free products.
  • Cargill invests in research and innovation to reduce the need for antibiotics in food production. For example, we work with livestock and poultry suppliers and our customers to develop improved feed products that improve animal health without the use of antibiotics.
  • We also promote industry best practices for husbandry and hygiene, routine health examinations and veterinary advice as another method to prevent disease without the use of antibiotics.
  • Cargill’s animal nutrition and animal protein businesses continually invest in research and innovations that help reduce antibiotic use, particularly of drugs that are used to protect human health.

Also, Cargill will be the leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way:

  • In Cargill global poultry, we are working to provide sustainable products and services to our customers and are committed to finding practical and scalable solutions.
  • We are working with farmers, customers, NGOs and other partners to make the future of poultry more sustainable.

At the Cargill corporate level, we’ve identified four focus areas where we believe we can leverage our global market presence to have a lasting impact:

  • Land use
  • Water resources
  • Climate change
  • Farmer livelihoods